The number of women ringing the breast cancer helpline
tripled following Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo a
The increase matches an international trend that's been
dubbed by media as the "Angelina effect".
The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation welcomed the
attention Jolie has brought to the issue and said the actress
had helped to raise awareness.
Foundation spokeswoman Adele Gautier said that in the first
couple of weeks after news of Jolie's decision broke,
inquiries to their contact centre and helpline increased
Ms Gautier said a lot of women asked about their eligibility
for the test to determine whether they had mutations in their
BRCA genes that increase the chances of developing breast
cancer by 60 per cent.
The line usually receives about 25 calls a week from people
seeking advice and volumes have since returned to normal.
Jolie tested positive for the genetic anomaly and chose to
undergo a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She
detailed the reasons for her decision in a heartfelt article
in the New York Times published on May 14.
Ms Gautier said the publicity that followed helped women have
a conversation about the issue and to ask about their family
history. Every day, a New Zealand woman under 45 is diagnosed
with breast cancer and overall, one in nine women will have
"Angelina's story seems to have had a really positive effect
on people who've realised you can have breast cancer and can
go on and have a great life, or have that risk and take
steps, then get on with your life," Ms Gautier said.
In Australia, the Cancer Council of Victoria reported a 1033
per cent increase in calls to its helpline.
The X Factor contestant Benny Tipene has given an interview
about his family's battle with breast cancer. The 23-year-old
from Palmerston North dedicated one of his performances on
the show to his mother, Annette, who was diagnosed two years
- by Amelia Wade